Tours highlight

handling mud

Snohomish Conservation District in Western Washington will host two farm tours on Saturday, Sept. 26, in the Grandview area north of Arlington.

The morning and afternoon tours will be at a cattle and horse farm that was once a dairy. The owners have retrofitted the facility to make chores easier, reduce mud and handle livestock waste.

There is no cost for the tours, but an optional barbecue lunch will be served for $5 per person. During lunch, Alayne Blickle, director of Horses for Clean Water, will explain how to prepare a farm for wet Northwest winters.

Pre-registration is required by phone at 425-335-5634, ext. 123, or by e-mail: workshops@

Distillery course

offered Sept. 26

The Northwest Agriculture Business Center will host a one-day business-development class for producers interested in establishing a distillery in the state of Washington.

The class will be offered Saturday, Sept. 26, at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., and will focus on costs and other issues.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will also be on hand to provide information about the new craft distilling law and its regulations.

Information: Call360-336-3727 or visit NABC's website at www.AgBizCenter,org.

Space is limited.

-- Cookson Beecher

Oregon FSA hosts open house

The Oregon state office of the USDA Farm Service Agency is hosting an open house Oct. 1 to introduce new state Executive Director Lynn Voigt.

The event will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Farm Service Agency office in Tualatin, 7620 SW Mohawk.

The Farm Service Agency administers direct and guaranteed farm loan programs for beginning farmers, disaster recovery, operational financing and farm ownership.

Information: 503-692-3688, ext. 228.

--Mitch Lies

Workers' comp rate hike sought

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Workers' compensation rates would climb by an average of 7.6 percent next year, under changes proposed by state labor officials.

State Labor and Industries Director Judy Schurke says the rate hike would raise about $120 million for the state-run insurance program, which pays lost wages, medical bills and pensions for injured workers.

Schurke says the state has pushed the proposed rate hike as low as possible, given the slow economy.

But Republicans say the rate hike is still too high for struggling businesses.

State Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, is among those calling for reforms to help keep costs down.

Final rates won't be set until late November, after public hearings.

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